Movement towards a review of the cost sharing agreement has been slow.
In the past week, the treasurer confirmed that all residents of Mississippi Mills pay towards the subsidy. Some members of council believed that residents north of Wolfgrove and March Roads, including Pakenham, did not pay towards the agreement, except for the pool. The confusion arose because, in the cost sharing/Howard Allan formula, properties south of Wolfgrove and March Roads are the only ones counted towards a second property tax assessment used for the Carleton Place library and recreation (arenas, sports fields etc), which is then discounted based on the distance from Carleton Place. The entire municipality’s assessments are included for the pool subsidy. But everyone pays an equal share of the result.
At the October 20, 2020 Council meeting, two delegations spoke about the agreement:
Cathy Peacock, Chair of the Mississippi Mills Public Library Board, spoke about the Ontario Public Libraries Act and efforts to clarify the authorities for agreements other than union library and genuine reciprocal sharing agreements, which would cost residents nothing. She also noted that the accredited Mississippi Mills Library branches provide service to all residents within about 10 minutes of their home; the Province requires that service be available within 45 minutes.
Amanda Etherington, coach of the Carleton Place Water Dragons spoke about the swim team and the difficulties and expense they endure. Their worry was that if the cost-sharing agreement was terminated for the pool that their expenses would be through the roof and the club could not continue. It seemed that the team does not receive any additional benefit for residents in spite of the subsidy. I reported that a pool was a high priority wish of Mississippi Mills residents in the 2013 Recreation review (the “Stantec Report”); it is the one item we do not have so it makes sense to support it and I believe that Almonte and Ramsay each contributed substantially to its building in 1982. A review should examine if groups like the Water Dragons, mostly Mississippi Mills residents, are getting a fair shake from our subsidy.
Before my motions came up, Councillor Ferguson had a motion asking that Council “direct a Mississippi Mills staff and select members of Council to initiate dialogue with our Municipal partners (Carleton Place, Beckwith) with input from the Recreation Cost Sharing Committee, in order to conduct a review of the Cost Sharing Agreement along with any negotiated amendments.” Councillor Ferguson noted, as did Mayor Lowry previously, that there had been correspondence from Mayor Black of Carleton Place and verbal discussions with Reeve Kidd of Beckwith.
Councillor Holmes added an amendment to have an in-camera meeting on November 3 to discuss the matter. There are legal issues to consider and Councillor Ferguson mentioned negotiations.
When my motions came up, I spoke about the main problems with the agreement as I see them (see Remarks, here). Some of the results are astounding. It made sense to defer them until these discussions were concluded.
You can read agendas and meetings or view the meetings here: